It is not about the adult identifying the emotion, it is about helping THE CHILD identify the emotion. The emotion will continue to repeat itself until the child learns how to master this emotion and cope with it. Be gentle with this process. It requires the adult to be patient in order to: give guidance by asking questions and not assuming the answer, comfort when frustration arises and problem solving strategies to move forward. You will find that if you take the time, no matter what the age, to allow your child to define their emotions, they will come to you as a "safe place".
What do all parents want? For our children to be safe, happy and healthy. There is a looming reality that we all face... one day we will not be there to tell our child right from wrong, safe from unsafe. The best we can do is hope that we did the best job we could. So, what defines "doing the best job"? In the research I have done regarding this type of concept, the main revolving piece of information resides in "communication".
No matter what, you have the responsibility to create a "safe place" for your child to fail in. If you do, they will always seek to speak with you at their darkest times. Be the light they need. This is not to dismiss setting consequences and boundaries, which each parent unit or single parent needs to do, but your child must leave these conversations knowing that there is unconditional love and that sometimes, there are repercussions to your actions. Think about the times you have made the worst mistakes, how do you get through it? You rely on a specific set of coping skills. Help your child develop them.
As parents, we are not supposed to have all of the answers for our children, however, we have a responsibility in helping them discover and define what their emotions are. In life, we are constantly given choices, each moment of the day. If we want our children to make the best, confident decisions as they grow, we must give them the opportunity to understand each emotion.
It took time for Cecilia to be patient with me and this process too...remember, you are guiding them to identifying, defining, verbalizing and problem solving.. they must build a tolerance for this process too. Be patient. Once the emotion has been mastered, your child will quickly bounce back and not feel as frustrated. The process becomes quicker and quicker and you know your child is building a solid emotional intelligence! It doesn't matter how old your child is, they are still feeling. Relearn these emotions with them and maybe even redefine them for yourself through the eyes of a child.
Here's how I choose to speak to Cecilia:
- "How does this make you feel?"
-I wait for HER answer and sometimes repeat myself so that she understands the importance of being able to verbalize her thoughts and feelings. Reminder, an adult response will be quicker, children take a longer time to process and verbalize... be patient
-If she does not have an answer, I explain to her the definition of the emotion
-I ask her if she knows what we call the emotion
-I wait for her answer; Reminder, an adult response will be quicker, children take a longer time to process and verbalize... be patient
-If she does not know the name of it, I give it a name for her.
-I then ask her, "Why do you feel that way?"
-I am always astonished how she is able to communicate her thoughts; they get more clear each day
-I repeat back to her what I heard and asked her if I heard her correctly
-She gives me her answer, if she says, "Yes", we move on... if she says, "No" I ask the question again
-I then ask her what we can do to "problem solve" (just started with this phrase) or "make it better" (a phrase I used when she was younger)
-I like to challenge her to come up with the solution herself, then we discuss her choice. EVEN IF you know the solution is going to fail (aside from something unsafe that could harm your child), let your child see their thoughts go through fruition. Guide them through the process. Ask them if they have any more ideas. If they do, continue the process. If they don't, ask them if you can give them an idea. Then, the rest is history.
Often, we find that we skip all the in-between to once again, quickly move on and solve, but what are they really gaining from someone telling them what to do? We want our children to grow as individuals. Take the time... S--L--O--W---D--O--W--N
As we all know, children will act out when they are frustrated and cannot find the right words. Regardless if you are reflecting on a teenager or a three year old, at times, they all say hurtful things, or even things that don't make sense, but as the ADULT listening, we need to know that they are on a path to self expression. It is important to remove your "ego" or the "child within you" from the situation and look why your child is feeling this way; it all goes back to the root of defining and mastering each emotion.
As the adult, we have the opportunity to help shape our children's feelings and words into beautiful perspective with the gift of learning what unconditional love and respect is for self and for your parents. It is crucial that we show respect to our little ones as well; their thoughts and feelings matter too; respect is the one thing that keeps us all united. Healthy boundary setting is up to the parent to define and communicate but, "you can say what you mean and not say it mean," if you get my drift! Children respond better when you show them respect. Respect requires us to once again, *s--l--o--w *d--o--w--n*, talk from our hearts and continuously help shape the developing emotions of our children.
What you say to your children make a difference but often times listening with your eyes and ears can lead you to phenomenal insight. If you have a partner it is important to be in their corner; this is essential in keeping the bond of the family strong. If you are co-parenting, remember, you must always speak in positive light to your child about their parent; a child should never be responsible for absorbing your sadness or problems. If you are doing all of this parenting thing all by your self, I am sending you so many blessings, positive energy and love... you are truly Heaven sent and one of the strongest people I know. LOVE TO ALL!